WINTHROP, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's basketball team was picked to finish twelfth in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced Tuesday by the league's front office. The annual poll is voted upon by the conference's 12 head coaches. The Blue Jays open the 2019-2020 season at home in the O'Connell Center against Nichols College on Saturday, November 9 at 1:00 p.m.
In a potential changing of the guard across the league landscape, longtime powerhouse and defending champion Emmanuel College (EC) has topped the polls. While EC won 15 GNAC titles in an 18-year span from 1996-2013, the Saints had not claimed a GNAC Championship since 2013 prior to last winter, as 43rd-year head coach Andy Yosinoff's squad went on the road to upset top-seeded Saint Joseph's College of Maine, 65-64, capturing the GNAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
Finishing behind Emmanuel in the poll was Albertus Magnus College with the remaining two first-place votes and 129 points, followed by Suffolk University in the third position with 113 points. For the complete results, please see below.
2019-20 GNAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Emmanuel (10) – 142
2. Albertus Magnus (2) – 129
3. Suffolk – 113
4. Saint Joseph's Maine – 108
5. Colby-Sawyer – 94
6. Regis – 85
7. Anna Maria – 77
8. Johnson & Wales – 62
9. Norwich – 49
10. Rivier – 28
11. Lasell – 26
12. Saint Joseph CT – 23
The Blue Jays finished the 2018-2019 campaign with a 3-22 record, including 0-12 in the conference under first-year head coach Wendy Davis. USJ triumphed over Bay Path University, Mount Holyoke College, and John Jay College, but missed out on the GNAC tournament by five games.
Looking ahead, the Blue Jays are returning more than 34 points per game from last year's starting lineup (nearly two-thirds of their scoring), including the leading scorer, sophomore guard Cheyenne-Mone Smith (Wethersfield, Conn.), who was a three-time GNAC Rookie of the Week last season. Smith's defense was also on display, finishing third in the GNAC in steals per game (3.2) and blocks (1.9). USJ also welcomes back sharpshooting sophomore Silvana Barcomb (Middletown, Conn.), a one-time rookie of the week winner and three-point threat last year.
The top-eight teams in the league's regular-season standings will advance to the 2020 GNAC Tournament, which is set to begin with the quarterfinal round on Tuesday, February 25, the top-four seeds serving as hosts. The semifinals will be held on Thursday, February 27 by the remaining two highest seeds, followed by the championship game on Saturday, February 29 by the highest remaining seed.
Admission to USJ's home opener this Saturday is free of charge.
About the GNAC
The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 22 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.